News & Media

Western Australian bees sweetening Canadian industry

Released on

Released on:
Thursday, 9. May 2013 - 10:15

Nearly 40 million Western Australian honey bees have been exported to Canada in the past month to assist its beekeepers.

Before export, the Department of Agriculture and Food completed health inspections on hives from 10 beekeepers in 28 South West locations.

The department’s director of plant biosecurity John van Schagen said the export sales were a great endorsement for the State’s bee biosecurity program, coordinated by department senior apiculturist Bill Trend.

“The health of our bee industry and its freedom from important exotic diseases including European foulbrood, small hive beetle and varroa mite is a major factor in the Canadians choosing WA to supply bees,” Mr van Schagen said.

“This is the seventh year of exports to Canada and the quantity exported this year has increased 50 per cent from 2012.”

Canadian honey bees are often kept indoors through harsh winter weather. Some do not survive this experience and the addition of fit, healthy WA honey bees helps replace casualties and kick-start their pollination and honey-gathering activities.

Mr van Schagen said the 14 consignments of honey bees sent to Canada included queens, nurse bees and older forager bees – a complete package.

Department researcher Rob Manning developed the package bee export process in the late 1990s, working out the numbers of bees that could be safely removed from hives without adverse effect.

Queen bees alone used to be exported, but package bees provide a quicker boost to the Canadian hives, which are often used to pollinate canola crops.

Mr van Schagen said eastern Australian honey bees did not comply with Canadian import conditions following the discovery and spread of Asian honey bees in northern Queensland.

“This emphasises the importance of maintaining freedom of the WA bee industry from exotic pests and diseases,” he said.


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